That telltale chill is now in the air in the morning and I now daily wish for toasty pajama pants made from an electric blanket. [Someone, please get on that?] The heater is now on, though kept at a very low temperature; for now, it’s just to keep the pipes in the house happy. The transition in weather always triggers me to make things in different ways too. This latest embroidery has captivated me. That it allows me to snuggle under a blanket all day rather than toil in the cold sewing spaces could be the reason for the change?
And I’ve already begun thinking about Thanksgiving. My RealLife is very different than before and so there are some choices to make; choices I’m not so happy about. Alas, this is what life is about, right? A big part of my misgivings is about having to compromise on even getting to have a feast with friends. That’s all I’ll say about it; it will be fine. [Nope, I’m not looking to have my problems solved, I’m kind of building up to an analogy with stitchery, believe it or not.]
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to reap the harvest and revel in the slow and laborious process of making traditional foods for a crowd. It’s exciting to wake up early and work on my own to execute a solid kitchen plan for a big old lunch. Now I don’t really use recipes, but rather follow time-tested flows learned from my grandmother and father. Sure, I’ll try little modern flourishes, but this is the meal that’s all about tradition and feeding a whole lotta people. Now the time-consuming nature of RealJob keeps me from indulging often in elaborate menus, but I love cooking: the shopping and chopping and the experience of a social moment–both nourishing and happy-making when successful.
It’s about the process. I don’t use a food processor for any of the chopping. I don’t even own one. Back in the 1990s I took a cooking class in night school, keeping my options open in the first year of grad school. It was a very different experience from all the trappings of academia–in both concept and people–and kept me grounded in a time when many can float up past the spire of the ivory tower. For that and the knife skillz, it was an invaluable way to have spent my precious little free time. Something tells me that if you’ve read this far then you might understand how chuffed I get after dicing an onion into tiny uniformly sized bits? And, really, only a desire to make hummus on a regular basis ever drove me to consider getting a food processor. But I ended up just rough chopping the beans and preferring a chunkier version. To be absolutely clear: I don’t judge anyone who uses a food processor; it’s just another means to an end. This is merely a statement about my own enjoyment of not using one.
This is who I am.
It’s no mystery to those who’ve been around her for long that I like things slow and hands-on in my stitchery and artwork too. There are certainly many ways to get similar results, but like with chopping an onion I definitely prefer the experience of fondling and manipulating textiles in my hands as much as possible. Most of the time I have the luxury of not worrying about the final product or a deadline, so I indulge in contemplative shopping for supplies, sometimes puzzling out extensive plans for the making (especially for embroidered works), and spend hours in solitude working and reworking each stitch until I’m satisfied.
My world is a hot mess right now, with upheaval at RealJob, transitions in my RealLife, and general anxiety about the upcoming US presidential election. This current stitchery has given me refuge. Every time I encounter a slub or a skinny thread in this natural linen fabric, there’s a ping in my heart. Within the constraints of the physical characteristics of cotton and linen and using the colors available to me, I can control all that happens here. If you borrowed my +4.00 cheater reading glasses you could even see the stitches that I’ve stitched over time and again, changing colors to achieve some effect that likely I’ll be the only person to notice. I get to reassess what “perfection” means to me every time I decide to move along. And when I turn off the teevee/podcasts/audiobooks and just process my thoughts as I pull cotton through linen, the world seems much better than it might have appeared moments before.
I dunno. This is a first stab at explaining my own why. Last week I had a very different experience that will result in another attempt at explaining another aspect of my own why. That one made me cry big tears of rage, so it’ll take me a minute to prepare.
Have a great week!